Common Trans and/or non-Binary based Microaggressions

These are derogatory remarks and insults relating to someone’s gender identity, expressed verbally or non-verbally, intentionally or unintentionally.

Explicit expressions, verbal or behavioural such as:  

  • Abusive descriptions, e.g. “Tranny”  

  • ‘Deadnaming’ (use of birth or former name without consent) 

  • Misgendering (saying ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ or ‘they’)  

  •  Excess focus on anatomical sex markers, most usually reproductive organs 

  • Avoidant behaviour such a moving away or leaving out of a group 

  • Anti-trans posters, stickers, leaflets, particularly in toilets  

  • Intrusive questioning about intimate details 


Student Quotes


People feel entitled to ask questions that are really intimate that they'd never ask a cis person.  Because you've been honest about being trans, they then think that they've been invited into some sort of sexual or personal discussion.

University of Edinburgh

There's this weird idea of touching people's parts and 'checking' that I think is quite common for trans people.  Very often when I tell people I'm a trans man they reach for my chest and say, "What have you got there?"  Or reaching between people's legs and all that stuff.

University of Edinburgh


Microinsults and Microinvalidations

These are often based on ignorance of what trans identity is and entails.  In different ways they negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or lived reality of Trans and non-Binary people, by questioning their experience, gender identity and the process of transition.  Examples include: 

  •  “Can’t you just be a butch lesbian?”  

  • “I also wanted to be a boy when I was a child.”  

  • “I don’t get how you can feel like a man AND a woman”  

  • “Why are you making life so hard for yourself?”  

  • “I don’t understand why you don’t just love yourself?”   

  • “Anorexic people also think their body is wrong and we don't let them starve themselves, why should you be allowed to mutilate your body?   

  • “You’re just dressing for effect.”   

  • “How is it different to getting a boob job?”   

  • “You don’t have to become a man to have a career in STEM.”   

  • “You think this will make you happy, but it won’t.”  


Student Quotes


The reason I'm taking testosterone is because it makes me feel better about myself and not because it makes other people feel better about me.  It's not for them it's for my health and my wellbeing and my happiness.

University of EdinburghStudent

  A lot of cis people see transition, typically medically transition, as the problem, or the thing that is causing the hard times and it's like, "oh you know it's because you are taking testosterone you feel bad".  No, this is the solution, and this is the path that I'm walking to get away from the bad feelings.  

University of EdinburghStudent


Counteracting discrimination:  you can find resources to help you support diversity and inclusion in the What Can I Do? section and in Counteracting Microaggressions.